Georgia United States
Local artist, Comer Jennings, was commissioned in 1996 to create an image for the Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Georgia artist Comer Jennings uses chiaroscuro perspective in his Surrealistic style painting titled “Hello, Dali.”
Chiaroscuro, a method of applying the illusion of three dimensions to a two-dimensional form, was devised during the Italian Renaissance and effectively used by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. This system is based on the source of light coming from one pre-determined direction that in turn requires the subsequent light and shadows to conform to a definite set of rules.
In artwork, a highlight will mark the point where the light is being reflected most directly. Moving away from this spot, the light weakens and is registered in a darker value until reaching the backside of the form. Here indirect light illuminates the back edge and provides the most contrast to the cast shadow.
Undoubtedly this is more than the average person ever wanted to know, but it is this basic formula that artists use to create interesting moods and character in their work.
Giorgio de Chirico, an Italian artist born in the late 1800’s, became obsessed with chiaroscuro perspective at a time when most artists of the day were revolting against the artistic conventions of the past. Chirico is said to have seen a ‘disturbing connection between perspective and metaphysics.’ His works were filled with ‘cardboard’ architecture and very dark shadows to create a feeling of three-dimensional emptiness and bewilderment.
This quote taken from his visit to Versailles in 1914 explains the artist’s thought process:
Silence and peace reigned supreme. Everything looked at me with mysterious questioning eyes. And then I understood that every palace angle, every column, every window possessed a spirit, a impenetrable spirit … At that point I became aware of the mystery that drives men to create strange forms. And creation appeared to me to be more extraordinary than the creators.
Chirico’s style of perspective came to be known as metaphysical painting and later attracted the Surrealists like Dali and Rene Magritte who considered Chirico their forerunner and link to Symbolism. They agreed with his premise that “to become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere.
How difficult it must be to forsake these conventions. Yet, once done, how very liberating it must be. Comer Jennings, a highly regarded Georgia artist, known for his portraiture and marvelous O’Keefe-like still life paintings, often breaks from this more traditional work to complete a series of surrealistic paintings. These somewhat whimsical works, which capture the attention and bring a smile to the face of the viewer, are definitely among the artist’s own personal favorites.